Having a diverse set of skills and a broad knowledge base is becoming increasingly important to those hoping to succeed as a personal trainer. As consumers’ focus switches to whole-person health, areas such as sleep and sleep recovery will become just as important as providing clients with the right exercise regime. 

Diversification has become a key consideration for all fitness professionals. Being able to offer more than “just exercise” could mean the difference between success and failure in an age where an explosion of at-home exercise opportunities – coupled with wearables, fitness trackers and wellness apps – have transformed the traditional gym sector. 

Personal trainers can no longer purely rely on their prowess in strength and conditioning coaching or their knowledge of physiology. Sleep – and sleep recovery in particular – for example, are areas in which consumer demand is growing rapidly. 

To provide personal trainers, wellness professionals and performance coaches with the skills needed to assist with sleep recovery, Nordic Fitness Education (NFE) has developed a unique course. The online-based Sleep Recovery Specialist course provides essential foundational knowledge, sleep assessment tools, and a wide range of effective strategies for coaching clients to improve their sleep-related behaviours and routines. 

One of the coaches to have completed the course recently is Barry Bridges, a sport scientist and qualified personal trainer based in Cape Town, South Africa. We spoke to Barry to find out how NFE’s sleep course has transformed his business.

How long have you been working in fitness/wellness? 

For around 15 years. My background is in sports science and is a mixture of practical experience and academic work. I’ve mainly worked in corporate wellness and in professional sports, from helping professional golfers with their fitness to performance coaching of esports athletes. 

What attracted you to enrol on the Sleep Recovery Specialist course?

I had previously completed a Sleep Science Coach Certification and was looking to further my knowledge – and that’s when I came across Nordic Fitness Education. I spoke to Ben Pratt and he took me through the curriculum and explained to me in great detail what the course offered. 

The subjects and topics – from sleep physiology and analysis to sleep strategies – were eye-catching and I felt that the course offered just what I was looking for. I liked the fact that I didn’t really know a lot about some of the topics, as it would mean that I would be expanding my knowledge base. 

What skills/knowledge, in particular, were you looking to acquire/improve by enrolling on the course?

One area was definitely to get more information on chronotype and sleep analysis. I was keen on those because I wanted to improve my skills in sleep assessments. My previous sleep training with another provider didn’t cover assessments that thoroughly. NFE offered much more in this area – and it’s all based on science. 

Do you feel that the course was successful in equipping you with those?

Definitely. I think the course syllabus and the way the NFE break down each subject matter makes it easy for people to understand and learn – whether they come from a scientific background or not. 

The course also included practical aspects with everything backed up with theory. I love having both the practical and the theory. It’s the same with my career – my practical experience is important for doing my job, but I also want a qualification or certification which shows that I know what I’m doing.

What were the most useful learnings you have gained from the course?

I’m constantly using the knowledge the course gave me around sleep assessments. I also really like the personal touch of having a sleep diary. I’m also utilising what I’ve learnt around different sleep analysis – in particular how to capture data and the understanding of the data offered by different wearable devices. 

I also learnt a lot on the sleep physiology side – especially when it comes to the different chronotypes – and also about the different sleep recovery methodologies. What I liked was that the learning was also backed with a lot of data and scientific information. 

Was the course what you expected? Any surprises on the way?

Yes, absolutely. I’d give the course an overall mark of 5/5, because it covered all aspects – from the science of sleep to the practical applications of each subject. This makes it perfect for both those who already might have scientific knowledge about sleep, as well as who don’t. 

As for surprises, the final case study was a bit of a surprise and really tested the knowledge the students have acquired! 

What was, for you, the most positive aspect of the course?

I’d say the content of the course and the flow of each subject. The lecturing from the tutor, Ben, made it quite easy to understand and there was quite an easy flow with each subject matter. This meant that you weren’t ever lost on the journey and he took you through the different sections. 

There are around six sections on the course and it all builds up nicely as you go. You start by learning what the problems of sleep are, move on to the science of sleep physiology and then learn about the practical suggestions. 

How did you find the online learning experience?

It worked perfectly. The course materials were easy to access and read and if I ever struggled with anything, the tutors would give me feedback. The course materials – such as the sleep assessments – were nicely laid out too. 

What also impressed me was that everything had been thought about from a technical point of view. For example, there are some expert interviews you could tune into, but if for some reason you missed them, you could access a breakdown of them as a written document. 

Would you recommend the course to others – and if so, why?

I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the personal training space or those working as life or wellness coaches. It’s also very useful for those working in areas to do with strength and conditioning and high performance. 

I think the key thing is that it gives you a really big market to tap into. More and more people are now aware of the benefits of sleep – not least because of the global pandemic. 

From a business point of view, I think it is a great way for personal trainers to diversify. It adds another string to their bow, whether they want to add it to their existing services or specialise as a sleep coach and target a specific market, such as corporations or professional sports teams.

Sleep and sleep science is a field that will continue to grow and I genuinely believe that having expertise in this area could offer unlimited earning potential. The demand for sleep coaches is growing and, at the moment, there aren’t that many of us. If you do a Google search on nutrition coaches, strength and conditioning experts or sports scientists and you get thousands of hits. Not so for sleep coaches. 

Has the course enabled you to offer services you weren’t able to before?

Definitely, it has given me additional tools and learning which support my existing skills. I now have my own website (successfulsleeper.com) and I’m specialising as a sleep and recovery coach. 

I think there will be a big drive towards sleep coaching over the next year and we will see sleep coaches in all types of areas…especially those related to elite performance.

What was your impression of Nordic Fitness Education as a training provider?

Very good. I’m very big on accreditation processes, so the course being accredited with eREPs was a big thing. It was also obvious that all the learning was backed up with the latest scientific literature regarding sleep science. 

Want to add another string to your bow and take your PT offering (and career) to the next level? Find out how you can train up to become a Sleep Recovery Specialist with an eREPS accredited course by clicking here: www.nordicfitnesseducation.com/sleep-recovery-specialist

Everything was run very professionally and the tutor, Ben, was always extremely helpful with any queries.